Two determined lecturer-researchers at Artevelde University – specialist linguist Edris Van Lil and marketing communications expert Nathalie De Boeck – recently published their findings, after having polled 600 respondents and interviewed 23 business owners and 20 consumers. Their conclusion? Language matters. A lot. Because people will mercilessly steer clear of any website that contains mistakes.

There is no way around the numbers

The results are unforgiving: every spelling error or typo will cost you customers. 75% of businesses and consumers report feeling annoyed when they spot a mistake in a text – 40% feel very annoyed. No less than 72% of respondents said they’d close a tab if it contained a glaring mistake – from missing hyphens to an its instead of an it’s (honestly, people). And bye-bye visitor means bye-bye customer.

Impeccable copy bolsters your image

Now you may find yourself thinking: “Meh, whatever. As long as my service or product does the job.” But according to the study, careless web copy actually chips away at your company’s reputation. 72.5% of respondents felt linguistic errors damaged a company’s brand, 67.4% lost trust in the company and 65.2% felt less inclined to buy its products or services.

Worse still: when consumers get to choose between companies based on their copy – with only one company’s texts containing mistakes – 55% opts for the company with flawless copy. 20% doesn’t have a preference, while only 25% will pick the company with poor writing. Which means solid web texts allow you to retain 30% more visitors.

Our sister company Outsource Communications explains the importance to your reputation of convincing communication.

Fault-free text is silver, convincing copy is gold

Writing well is the minimum. What you want are texts that stand out. Highly original copy has a positive effect on your image (53.5%) and on consumers’ confidence (83.2%) and purchase intention (60%). An A/B test with 2 texts shows that convincingly written texts perform better than texts that don’t invoke any strong feelings.
Translation as a tool for international success
Having a flawlessly written website in your market’s native language is one thing. Providing versions in other languages is just as important. Our client The Cookware Company, which markets its healthy cookware in no fewer than 31 languages, agrees:


...the quality of translations obviously reflects on the quality of our products.

Dorien Schrooten, Senior Creative Copywriter at The Cookware Company


So make sure you translate your website very carefully. Visitors don’t want to be reminded of the fact that they’re reading a translation. They just want to find the information they’re looking for, preferably presented in well-written paragraphs.

Correct copy for conversion

There’s no way around the study’s main conclusion: high-quality web copy will have a positive impact on your results. It strengthens your image, increases customers’ confidence in you and even makes them more likely to purchase what you offer. Or, as one of the entrepreneurs who was interviewed put it: “using language correctly is part and parcel of good customer service.”

We always suspected writing with care had a positive ROI (Return On Investment). Now, our suspicions have been confirmed in black and white.


Want to know more? Read the entire study here.

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